by David Kirkpatrick
, Senior Reporter
Like many B2B companies, Marketo was experienced with event marketing. The marketing automation software vendor participated in events as a sponsor, hosted its own in-person events in multiple cities, and also included virtual events in its event marketing strategy.
Marketo created a partner ecosystem called LaunchPoint, and wanted to promote that program with what Jon Miller, VP Marketing, Marketo, called an "anchor event."
"We wanted to provide more than just a press release to announce this thing," Miller said, "and we wanted to make a big splash and make a big impact in the marketplace."
He said the company had launched another major initiative with a live event that was successful. However, the event cost Marketo around $50,000 and only directly touched the around 100 attendees.
To announce LaunchPoint, the team wanted to directly touch thousands of people, so the decision was made to create a virtual event allowing many more people to receive the full experience of the launch.
This case study covers how Marketo created, and promoted, a virtual event that drove 10,155 registrants and around 3,000 attendees, and brought 1,824 new names into Marketo's database.
The entire effort centered on multichannel promotion, and because LaunchPoint was Marketo's partner ecosystem, the company was able to leverage those partners to reach an audience much larger than its existing database.
Step #1. Name and position the event, then set the agenda
"The first decision we had to make was, 'What are we going to call this thing?'" Miller said. "How are we going to position it to appeal to as many people as possible?"
Even though the purpose of the event was to announce the LaunchPoint ecosystem, the virtual event was titled, "Good to Great — A Marketing Virtual Event."
From there, the team created an event around the theme of taking marketing to the "next level." LaunchPoint fit into the theme presented as a pillar of how marketers could make their good efforts great efforts.
Miller said, "The message appealed to our audience and accomplished the overall positioning story we wanted to make without it being a promotional thing."
The team had to build an event agenda meeting the promise of the event title and theme.
The agenda was a three-hour event including keynotes from a Marketo executive to an analyst from Forrester.
The keynote theme was the changing nature of marketing and how that change creates opportunities for marketers, and then specifically covering how the LaunchPoint ecosystem was a key element of what Marketo called "Marketing Nation."
The rest of the agenda was filled with three simultaneous tracks of four presentations each featuring marketing insights from Marketo partners.
The final keynote covered LaunchPoint putting a final cap on the actual goal of the virtual event — announcing Marketo's new partner ecosystem.
Step #2. Utilize the database for promotion
Marketo had a database of almost 600,000 names, and segmented more than 300,000 of those people to be invited to the virtual event.
The key segmentation was by location because the event was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time. This left some geographic areas where Marketo is active out of the event invitation group.
A secondary segmentation was by persona. The focus was on the core Marketing persona and did not include the Sales persona. Further refinement created a segment of marketing executives who were slated to receive targeted messaging.
"We did invite people from every stage of the buying cycle," Miller said. "This campaign was very much focused on customers as well as prospects and current opportunities."
The large segment targeted from Marketo's database was then sent an email series
Based on experience from hosting around 45 in-person events in multiple cities, Miller said the team perfected a promotional cadence for driving event marketing participation:
- Three weeks before the event, a press release with the big announcement and broad email blast went out.
- Two weeks before the event, a more targeted event invitation was sent.
- One week before, the third email was sent.
- Two days prior to the event, the fourth, and final, email was sent.
Miller explained each of the four emails contained different messaging with specific content assets, such as a list of the event speakers and sent recipients to a landing page
with information and a registration form.
Step #3. Include social media promotion
Marketo had 30,000 Facebook fans and more than 50,000 Twitter followers. Miller said those social media platforms gave the team "good reach" to broadcast the virtual event message out to its core audience.
He explained part of the value in social media outreach was in that some people will respond to a message through that channel over email.
The Twitter strategy included a series of six tweets over the three-week period the event was promoted. Miller stated the content of each tweet were variations on the different messages from the email campaign.
Internal social promotion
The team also leveraged an internal tool offering suggested tweets and LinkedIn posts to Marketo employees making it easy for those internal sources to tweet the suggestion. This aspect of the campaign included a gamification element with Marketo employees earning points for t-shirts or other small incentives.
Social referral program
Anyone who registered for the virtual event was provided a personalized URL (pURL) and encouraged to share that link through their social network. This encouragement included buttons for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that were already prepared with each registrant's pURL. Marketo offered a small incentive in the form of bumper stickers for any registrants who drove three additional registrations from their pURL.
Promoted Facebook posts
Miller said paid promotion in the form of promoted Facebook posts
was an important part of both the social media strategy and the overall promotion of the event. He described paid promotion as one of the "pillars" of the entire campaign.
He added Marketo's overall Facebook strategy was including images with every post, and for the virtual event, the team created custom graphics tied to the messaging for the promotional posts.
Miller said paid promotion also included targeted search engine advertising.
Step #4. Encourage promotion from partners
Because the purpose of the virtual event was the launch of Marketo's partner ecosystem, having those partners participate in the event promotion was an obvious tactic.
"I think [partner promotion] really put this event over the top," Miller said.
The LaunchPoint program included 80 member partners, and the main purpose of LaunchPoint is to generate leads and brand awareness for Marketo's partners.
Miller said the team went to those partners, told them about the virtual event launching the program and asked for support.
Marketo actually sold sponsorships for the event with two tiers. The top tier included four sponsors who paid for the privilege of being a top tier event sponsor.
The second tier was also offered at a price, but the team offered second tier companies the opportunity to participate at no cost by promoting the event to their database.
"For a few weeks, there were 60-odd companies who were inviting people to this event, amplifying our voice as well," Miller explained.
The end result of the paid sponsorship was the virtual event became a break-even budget line for Marketo. The team allocated costs for the event, but paid sponsorship ended up covering those costs.
Miller stated, "Not only did we get the audience to help promote it for us, we got them to fund it for us, too."
Step #5. Execute the event
The actual event included the keynote presentation, three concurrent tracks with presentations virtual event attendees could choose from to attend and a final keynote.
The virtual event also included an exhibit hall populated with virtual booths for Premier and Innovation level event sponsors.
The virtual booths included:
- Video for visitors to watch
- Chat function among booth visitors
- Content downloads from a virtual library
Another aspect of the event was a networking lounge where attendees could go into and chat with other attendees.
The presentation content for the 12 concurrent track sessions were based on panels from experts from Marketo's partner companies, with a focus on marketing expertise and best practices rather than brand promotion.
These sessions included a variety of topics, such as:
- Lead generation
- Online testing
- Content marketing
Because the content was more educational, each session had a closing call-to-action to learn more about the speaker's company.
Miller explained, "They haven't been promotional in the session, but they were allowed to say, 'Hey, come by our booth to learn more about we do.'"
Internally at Marketo, one content coordinator was tasked to "wrangle" the presentations and speakers, and ensure the event came together from an execution standpoint.
Miller said the team looked at a number of key performance indicators for the virtual event:
- Overall registration
- Registration driven by Marketo
- Registration driven by partners
- Number of new database names
- Number of qualified new names
- Total attendance
- Metrics on social engagement
- Conversion of attendee to deal cycle
The end result of the virtual event included:
- 10,155 registrations
- Around 8,000 registrations attributed to Marketo
- Around 2,000 registrations attributed to partners
- 1,800 new names in the Marketo database
- Around 2,000 tweets during the event
- 6,500 pieces of collateral downloaded
- 25 press releases about the event from partners
Other results include four partners telling the team they received leads from the event before the event was over. Miller said the online event platform vendor told him the LaunchPoint event was the largest online event it had ever hosted.
"I had my competitors calling me to tell me what an amazing launch this was, and how well executed it was," Miller said. "We just got so much visibility and awareness for this thing, and again, in the end there was almost no cost to us."
- Event landing page
Related ResourcesVirtual Events: How IBMís marketing department quickly responded to the economic downturnPrimer on Virtual Event Marketing: 10 Tactics, 3 Strategies to Draw Visitors, SponsorsWebinar How To: The 8 roles you need to fill to make your virtual event a successMarketing Strategy: Revenue-oriented approach leads to 700% two-year growthThe Definitive Guide to Event Marketing